We met with Abdul­lah Öcalan on the island prison of İmr­alı on May the 2ndlast”. This is what his lawyers announced yes­ter­day. Today, they pro­vid­ed more sub­stan­tial information.

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Rezan Sarı­ca, one of the two lawyers autho­rized among the four who had sub­mit­ted the request, announced dur­ing a press con­fer­ence today May 6th 2019, that the meet­ing had last­ed approx­i­mate­ly an hour and, although the author­i­ties had not allowed jailed leader Öcalan to sign offi­cial­ly a text or a dec­la­ra­tion in due form, the lawyers could trans­mit a message.

This meet­ing, fol­low­ing anoth­er that received lit­tle media atten­tion in Jan­u­ary with his broth­er, is the first break in the iso­la­tion to which Öcalan has been sub­ject­ed for 8 years, with brief episodes of unver­i­fi­able “news” or a short vis­it announced in 2016. Öcalan is a “State polit­i­cal pris­on­er” and the cur­rent regime acts the same way as the pre­ced­ing one that had him incar­cer­at­ed fol­low­ing the uni­lat­er­al break in the “peace process nego­ti­a­tions” in which he was the priv­i­leged inter­locu­tor fol­low­ing the now-dis­tant cease­fire of 1998.

Close to 3 000 polit­i­cal pris­on­ers are pur­su­ing a hunger strike in sol­i­dar­i­ty with Ley­la Güven, a deputy still on strike, who had launched this move­ment on Novem­ber 8 2018 for “the end to Öcalan’s iso­la­tion and a search for peace.” A vol­un­tary fast which then spread through­out the Kur­dish dias­po­ra, lead­ing to sui­cides. The news of this meet­ing, a very par­tial and tem­po­rary break in the secre­cy sur­round­ing Öcalan, thus car­ries a strong polit­i­cal connotation.

Four lawyers had request­ed the vis­it, only two were autho­rized to pro­ceed: Newroz Uysal and Rezan San­ca, who then made a dec­la­ra­tion to the media today (May 6th) at 3 PM in the Tak­sim Hill Hotel.

The lawyers insist­ed on the fact they were not pre­sent­ing a nego­ti­at­ing doc­u­ment or an agree­ment, but only a sim­ple communiqué.

Here is a quick trans­la­tion of their presentation: 

 “A deep social rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is nec­es­sary in the con­text of this his­tor­i­cal process.

In order to resolve prob­lems, there is need for a demo­c­ra­t­ic nego­ti­a­tion method, far from any polar­iza­tion and removed from a cul­ture of con­fronta­tion. We can resolve the prob­lems of Turkey, and even of the region, start­ing with that of war, though intel­lec­tu­al, polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al strength, and not through the instru­ments of violence.

 Along with the Syr­i­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic Forces (SFD), we must solve the prob­lems in Syr­ia by abstain­ing from any cul­ture of con­flict and in a per­spec­tive of local democ­ra­cy which must be guar­an­teed by the Con­sti­tu­ion, in the frame­work of a unit­ed Syr­ia. We must also be aware of Turkey’s con­cerns in this regard. 

 While respect­ing the resis­tance of com­rades in jail and with­out, we wish to say that their resis­tance must not run over into atti­tudes plac­ing their health at risk and that will end in death. For us, their men­tal, phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al health ris­es above every oth­er con­sid­er­a­tion. More­over, we are con­vinced that the most sen­si­ble approach is linked to the devel­op­ment of a men­tal and sprir­i­tu­al attitude.

 Our posi­tion in İmr­alı involves deep­en­ing and clar­i­fy­ing the means of expres­sion which we defined in the Newroz 2013 dec­la­ra­tion, and con­tin­u­ing on that same path.

 For us, a dig­ni­fied peace and a solu­tion based on a demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­cy are fundamental.

 With respect, we pay homage to those who wor­ried about our sit­u­a­tion in İmr­alı and who took posi­tion on this, and we con­sid­er that we owe them a debt of gratitude.

 Obvi­ous­ly, even though Abdul­lah Öcalan does not call explicite­ly for the end to the “hunger strikes”, he reit­er­ates Ley­la Güven’s mes­sage on the safe­guard­ing of life. More­over, he reit­er­ates his stance as the his­tor­i­cal inter­locu­tor for a relaunch­ing of the peace process: an extend­ed hand, always refused by the regime, of course.

His posi­tion on Syr­ia would encour­age the pur­suit of cur­rent meet­ings with the regime, and in this process, the nec­es­sary recog­ni­tion of the demo­c­ra­t­ic enti­ty in the con­sti­tu­tion. Here again, the Syr­i­an regime’s ambi­tion are known, always offer­ing the nego­tia­tors the same method as the one applied to the Jihadists, a method open­ly reject­ed these days by a Kur­dish Syr­i­an leader.

This mes­sage from Abdul­lah Öcalan rais­es two ques­tions for the move­ment and for the Kur­dish peo­ple in Turkey and in the region. If fol­lowed by silence on the part of the Turk­ish regime, as well as the Syr­i­an, it will final­ly rep­re­sent a false break in the iso­la­tion, main­ly use­ful for a polit­i­cal reflec­tion on the pur­suance of the hunger strikes begun in November.

Final­ly, the sec­ond ques­tion con­cerns the choice at the high­est lev­els of the pre­tence of a response to a demand to end the iso­la­tion, while chang­ing noth­ing in the basic situation

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